Introduction to the Accountability Post 2021 Week 37
Key performance indicators are great, but they have two prerequisites. First, you have to chose the right thing to measure. Before December 2020, I had tried to use number of chapters whose beats I’d written as a measurement. Unfortunately, that did not reflect any true progress, because beats weren’t working for me. As soon as I chose to measure the number of words I’d written for the first draft itself, I saw real progress. Since December 2020, I finished Book 1: 61 Cygni (147,027 words) and I’m well into Book 2: Epsilon Eridani.
I’ll share the second prerequisite with you after we go over the word count for the week!
Accountability Post 2021 Week 37 By the Numbers
During week 36, I wrote 6,919 words to push the total to 86,494 words. Here’re the details on how I did this week:
When it comes to writing output, slow, steady, and boring are exactly what I want.
This week, I managed to churn out 9,482 words to hit 95,976 words. In terms of plot points to word count, I think my chapters are running longer than the first book.
That makes sense, but I still articulate why. Maybe I can comment on that next week. The bottom line is, writing feels different time. It seems like I can see the plot more clearly, and I can see what I need to fix before it becomes a problem. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but at the very least, I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the process.
The Flip Side of Key Performance Indicators
This week, in a rare moment of downtime, I had a chance to reflect on what my key performance indicators were telling me. Okay, my interior editor just told me I should say “what my key performance indicator is telling me,” because I’m only tracking one thing: word count. It just sounds more impressive to use a plural.
Tracking word count is helpful. But in doing so, it made me feel like a successful week had been a failure. I looked at my output on September 8 and wondered what I had done wrong. I’m at the midpoint for all six arcs, and I want to carefully coordinate several of them to give a more dramatic punch. That means I had to jump back to Plot Turn 1 and Pinch 1 to make sure I picked up any threads I’d left. It’s hard for me to remembered all of the crumbs/foreshadowing I put into place, since at best, I can only write 2 hours a day — with some days having zero time to write.
So, on September 8, I had to go back through some of the material. I also had to flesh out a little bit of Atticus Porter’s early years in his character profile, which I had not had an opportunity to do before — or a need. So as I looked at that paltry 983 words, it dawned on me. If I had not taken the time away from writing words to make sure I wrote the right words, I would have diminished the novel’s dramatic impact.
So here’s the lesson I learned this week: Key performance indicators are great to measure progress. I know that I’m probably provoking your inner Captain Obvious when I say this, but I need to keep in mind that measurements don’t capture the whole story. If I read too much into them, I can get distracted and actually reduce my performance.
Previous Week’s Goals
Last week, I set these as my goals:
- Complete Melchizedek Conrad’s Midpoint: Done!
- Finish Atticus Porter’s Midpoint: Started
- Start Liam Martin’s Midpoint: Done!
I deferred Atticus Porter’s Midpoint because I decided to move Porter’s Midpoint to be after Martin’s. I started Porter’s Midpoint but did not finish it. On a side note, I really like the household staff. I had not intended for them to play any major role, but they’re making every scene they’re in more interesting. I hope the readers think so!
Next Week’s Goals
Next week, I hope to hit these targets:
- Finish Atticus Porter’s Midpoint
- Finish Stein’s Midpoint
- Start Porter’s Pinch 2
I think Porter’s Pinch 2 fits this close to his midpoint. I’ll give it some more thought.
I wonder if I should track targets/completions as a key performance indicator? Then I could use the plural with a clear conscience!
What Do You Think?
What do you use as key performance indicators as you write? Or do you even bother with them? I’d love to know what you think in the comments!